On Saturday Lena Dunham hosted Saturday Night Live and there’s no denying that she was hilarious — after all Dunham is hilarious, super smart, and more than willing to poke fun at herself. For all these qualities that she has in spades, I am a fan — which is why here in the UK I tune in every Monday night to the third season of her hit show Girls. BUT … yes there is a but … I just wish she would sometimes keep her clothes ON.
Take for example, a recent episode of Girls, where Marnie invited her three best buds to hang out at her mom’s friend’s beach house. In true Marnie style, she had planned the entire weekend to the nth degree, assigning bedrooms and organizing a rigid itinerary that included scheduled “healing time.” Naturally it doesn’t go to plan, mainly because Hannah bumps into her ex Elijah in town and invites him and his gang to come and hang at the house. For 99% of this episode, Hannah is wearing a teeny, tiny green bikini that neither flatters her nor supports her as she dances, runs around, and er … shops barefoot in town. When was the last time you went grocery shopping in a bikini, even on holiday in a sunny vacation land? Exactly. No one goes into a town in a bikini without at least throwing on a pair of shorts, a sarong, or a towel around them. Except Hannah.
Dunham seemed to make a virtue of this bikini. While the other girls wore an assortment of shorts, dresses, and — yes, at appropriate times like in the swimming pool — bikinis, Hannah wore only said bikini. Before every feminist screams at me that just because Dunham’s body isn’t a size zero, why on earth SHOULDN’T she wear a bikini — that isn’t my issue. I am all for championing women of all shapes, colors, and sizes to be able to show off their bodies — and applaud Dunham for being courageous enough to not let the pressure of Hollywood/the media force her into being a certain shape — however, isn’t she over-egging the pudding? If a stick-thin, size zero model did the same thing, wouldn’t she be accused of glamorizing thinness? But it’s okay that Hannah parades her plump curves in our faces because “yay for women who aren’t über thin who can do this!”
There is now a Facebook page called “Please Keep Your Clothes on, Lena Dunham.” I can’t help but agree with this. What was once brave is now verging on gratuitous. Did she need to play table tennis in her knickers in the episode where she had a fling with Patrick Wilson’s doctor character? The majority of women, no matter their shape, AREN’T privy to playing games in their underwear — or is it just me?
Is Dunham becoming an exhibitionist — someone who revels in making herself unappealing? In the beach house episode, she picked THE most unflattering angles, as if to accentuate her lack of tone. Why? To make us feel awkward? To repulse us? To challenge us to accept non-perfect bodies? Is it just a ploy for attention — a unique way of garnering column inches and endless media fascination? Certain websites seem to think so.
Dunham is ferociously talented. She champions women and has a keen eye for the minutiae of the complexities of female friendships and the awkwardness of one night stands. But we can appreciate all of this without having her naked body foisted upon us in every episode. We would appreciate it no matter the woman, no matter her size or shape. Women can be just as powerful with their clothes on, thank you very much.
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